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Dáil Speech on the Sale of State Assets – Thursday 8th March

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: It is strange that we are debating the sale of State assets because the same debate is taking place in New Zealand, a country to which many of our people have emigrated. Last night, the New Zealand parliament voted in favour of selling state assets. The country has a budget deficit similar to our own of approximately NZ$18 billion. It is using the sale of state assets to reduce its budget deficit.

It is fascinating to hear a debate taking place here and a measured debate taking place in New Zealand at the same time. I note the debate taking place in New Zealand is measured whereas here we are getting a rant, by which I mean that people pick up certain words within the debate and the legislation and on the sale of State assets and use it. Every speaker on the Opposition mentioned Eircom. Eircom was sold in its entirety. If we had held on to the strategic part of Eircom, that is the cabling and wiring, we would not have a debate in which Eircom would be mentioned.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: We would.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: No, we would not because we would have realised that part of the sale of Eircom would have generated the income we needed and we would have held on to the crucial part, the strategic part. I often wonder if people listen to what we say. We are not selling the strategic part of the assets put up for sale. We are selling the generating part, yet we are maintaining the wires and cabling. We are not selling the land associated with Coillte as my learned colleague, Deputy Boyd Barrett, said on a number of occasions. We are selling the product of the land, just like every farmer. He sells the product of his land, he does not sell the land. Will the Deputy please listen?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Who is going to manage and control it?

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: The most important asset in this country – nobody on the Opposition has mentioned it – is the people, our people. We have to look after our people. The most important issue for our people is to get them back to work. We will use the fund generated from the sale of some of the assets to provide facilities to generate jobs and to reduce debt. Any celebrity economist will say the reduction of debt in the long term generates more income for the country.

I welcome the sale of State assets. I stand firmly behind the Minister in the hard work ahead and look forward to debating the issue with the Opposition in a proper and controlled manner.